Class 6A blog: Preview of Friday’s second-round games

Seven of the eight Class 6A region champions survived the opening weekend of the football playoffs and will continue their seasons in the second round Friday night.

The one exception was Region 2 champion and eighth-ranked Brunswick, which suffered its only loss of the season against Houston County, 29-28 in overtime at Glynn County Stadium. Houston County finished in a tie with Northside-Warner Robins and Lee County for second place in Region 1 but settled for the No. 4 seed because of tiebreakers. Houston County is ranked No. 10 and was a seven-point favorite, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings. Region 1 swept its four games against Region 2.

The other region champions – Thomas County Central, Woodward Academy, Marist, Hughes, Rome, Roswell and Gainesville – had little trouble in the first round. They won their games by an average of 39 points, with none closer than Woodward’s 41-13 victory over Riverwood.

Thomas County Central, Gainesville and top-ranked Hughes are the remaining unbeaten teams.

Here’s a look at the eight second-round games:

*Allatoona (6-5) at Roswell (10-1): Allatoona, which started the season 1-5, beat Douglas County 24-0 for its fifth consecutive victory and third straight shutout, avoiding its first losing season since it began playing a region schedule in 2010. Jayden Ponder had touchdown runs of 24 and 15 yards and finished with 172 yards on 30 carries, putting him over 1,400 yards for the season. Region 7 champion Roswell, a quarterfinalist in Class 7A last season, is in the second round for the fourth straight year after beating Lanier 55-8. K.J. Smith passed for 190 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards and a TD on four carries. Nykahi Davenport rushed for 165 yards, putting him at 1,506 for the season, and two touchdowns.

*St. Pius (6-5) at Thomas County Central (11-0): St. Pius advanced to the second round for the sixth consecutive season with a 27-21 victory over Mundy’s Mill in two overtimes. Both teams scored in the first overtime and St. Pius scored in the second before recovering a Mundy’s Mill fumble to end the game. Jack Tchienchou had 84 of St. Pius’ 266 yards rushing and scored a touchdown. Second-ranked Thomas County Central, a 5-6 team in Class 4A last season, won a playoff game for the first time since 2016 when it beat Evans 49-10. Sam Brown passed for 205 yards and three touchdowns, two to Adam Hopkins. Ricky Fulton and Trey Benton each had 12 carries and two touchdowns while combining for 177 rushing yards.

*South Paulding (8-3) at Gainesville (11-0): South Paulding, which opened in 2006, won a playoff game for the fourth time in school history (and first since 2019) when it defeated Sequoyah 28-13. Jamarion Wilcox, an uncommitted three-star recruit, rushed for 150 yards, putting him at 2,059 for the season, and scored on runs of 3, 11 and 44 yards after the Spartans fell behind 13-7. Fourth-ranked Gainesville, the Region 8 champion, defeated Sprayberry 51-21 last week to end a six-game playoff losing streak that dated to 2015. Baxter Wright, a 2,000-yard passer in the regular season, threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns, including two each to Sky Niblett and Tre Reece. Naim Cheeks ran for 244 yards and two touchdown, putting him over 1,300 yards for the season.

*Houston County (9-2) at North Atlanta (8-3): This is the only second-round game in 6A matching teams that won on the road last week. Houston County is the only No. 4 seed still standing after knocking off previously unbeaten Brunswick 29-28 in overtime, part of a sweep by Houston’s Region 1 against Brunswick’s Region 2. Houston’s Antwann Hill, a 2,700-yard passer in the regular season, threw a 16-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass to Recordo Tarver after Brunswick had scored on its overtime possession. Hill, a sophomore, passed for 404 yards and four touchdowns. North Atlanta, the No. 3 seed from Region 4, recorded the first playoff victory in its 32-year history when it beat Lovejoy 30-17. The Warriors led 23-0 at halftime and held on for their school-record eighth win of the season. Lorenza Lennon passed for 153 yards and rushed for 84, and Charles Grier returned a fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to clinch the win.

*Lee County (8-3) at Woodward Academy (10-1): This is the only second-round game in 6A matching ranked opponents. Ninth-ranked Lee County, the No. 3 seed from Region 1, got four first-quarter touchdowns from Ousmane Kromah in a 57-7 victory over Effingham County. Braxton Honer ran for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. A win this week would put the Trojans in the quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive season. No. 5 Woodward Academy is in the second round for the 14th time in 15 seasons but has advanced to the quarterfinals just five times in that stretch. In the War Eagles’ 41-13 victory over Riverwood last week, Jalen Woods was 12-of-15 passing for 275 yards and five touchdowns, two each to Ben Grice (five receptions, 108 yards) and Josiah Abdullah (3-89).

*North Forsyth (8-3) at Hughes (11-0): North Forsyth reached the eight-win mark for the first time since 2005 with a 24-21 victory over Blessed Trinity. North Forsyth trailed 14-10 at halftime but got second-half touchdowns from West Roberts (8-yard run) and Aiden Ruckh (57-yard reception) for a 24-14 lead and held on. Roberts passed for 197 yards and two touchdowns, and Karson McBrayer had 82 yards rushing. Top-ranked Hughes, the state runner-up in 2021, is 11-0 for the first time in school history after its 49-6 victory over River Ridge. Prentiss “Air” Noland passed for three touchdowns, Jekail Middlebrook ran for two, and Terrance Loved scored on a 58-yard interception return. Hughes has outscored its opponents 582-102 this season and won eight of its games by 40 points or more, with none closer than 26 points.

*Northside-Warner Robins (7-4) at Marist (9-2): Northside beat Marist 30-6 for the Class 4A championship in 2006 in the only previous meeting between these traditional powers. Marist, ranked No. 7, advanced last week with a 46-8 victory over Morrow. Eli Clarkston rushed for 88 yards and two first-half touchdowns on five carries, and Marist scored touchdowns on its first four possessions. Marist is a run-heavy team, but its 17 TD passes this season are a school record. Northside never trailed in its 18-13 victory over Glynn Academy last week but sweated out the fourth quarter, when Glynn Academy had a first-and-goal at the 13 but was turned away on downs. Northside’s forte is defense with a 14.8 points-allowed average against Class 6A’s second-toughest schedule. A pair of dual-threat quarterbacks, Damien Dee and D.J. Hudson, run Northside’s offense.

*Alpharetta (8-3) at Rome (10-1): Alpharetta built a 21-0 lead in the first half and held on to beat Shiloh 28-26 in the first round for its first playoff victory since its 2017 team reached the quarterfinals. Shiloh missed an extra-point attempt and a two-point conversion in the second quarter and was never able to make up the points. Alpharetta’s Ben Guthrie, the leading passer in 6A in the regular season with 2,905 yards, threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score. Sixth-ranked Rome cruised past Paulding County 49-0 last week for its fifth shutout of the season. Javarius McDearmont (167 yards) and Chance Arthur (123) combined for 290 yards and five touchdowns rushing, and Reece Fountain was 11-of-12 passing for 124 yards. The Wolves, in the second round for the seventh time in eight years, have given up just 10 points in their last six games.